Headmaster Marcus Gunn gives us his view on what makes The Downs School in Wraxall, Bristol unique
I am often asked what distinguishes The Downs from other schools. We enjoy an outstanding ISI Inspection Report, but this does not necessarily highlight how the school might differ from others.
So here goes: Firstly, a wonderful setting of 70 acres of stunning parkland and woodland is used to enhance the children’s development; in their learning by perhaps attending lessons in our Tree House Classroom or Forest School, in their play by climbing trees and making dens, and in their sports.
Secondly, our children are also extremely happy; they hugely enjoy school. They are undoubtedly challenged – in all areas – and importantly they experience disappointment. We seek to develop resilience, perseverance and courage, traits of fortitude that will serve them well in later life. We also provide exceptional pastoral care that the children can rely on when the going gets a little tough.
Indeed the relationship between the children and staff is one of genuine, unusual warmth and care.
Furthermore children find recognition in a host of different ways. Pursuing an interest offers satisfaction in itself but by pushing for the highest standards children find fulfilment and confidence that readily translates into school life. Many schools boast an all round education but very few provide the range, the depth of opportunities our children are fortunate to enjoy. They are young and we guard against them becoming specialists too early in their school lives.
Rather we cajole children into choirs, theatre productions, club and teams. Within this environment of diverse opportunities our children become confident, self-assured, rounded individuals who value the difference of others.
And then there is the ‘big fish in a small bowl’ factor: Years 7 and 8 are excellent reasons why pupils should attend The Downs. It is these two year groups, a tender time in the physiological development of young people, our pupils are the ‘biggest fish’ in the pond, top of the pile, albeit small. The self-esteem and confidence they develop from this experience is tangible and unique in the local market. Each pupil experiences considerable responsibility, increasing independence and subtle privilege that inevitably informs the development of their character.
Additionally a small school, a close and happy community, the class sizes are small, so that children are not overlooked and teachers know the strengths and weaknesses of all their students.
Finally – why choose The Downs? Because we nurture happy children of natural grace and unaffected manner. Achievement is always applauded quietly within the community but quality of character is equally celebrated. Six good reasons why children should attend The Downs. The best way to test my assessment is by visiting – you’re very welcome.
The Downs Preparatory School, Wraxall, Bristol BS48 1PF
T: 01275 852008, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, W: thedownsschool.co.uk